Equal Opportunity Nursing: How Healthcare Discriminates


Nurses play a significant role in the health care team. They carry out an ongoing assessment of the patient's health and response to plan care, provide mental and physical health support, and help families feel safer and more secure. Unfortunately, nurses suffer more discrimination than other health workers. Many nurses are discriminated against based on their religion, race, gender, and other factors. Discrimination in health care is real and has dire consequences, so it needs to be addressed.


Racism in the Nursing Workspace Still a Problem


While blatant racial confrontation is not common anymore, nurses still suffer discrimination in the workplace, in many ways. Patients are one of the major offenders in this regard, when they refuse treatment from a nurse because of their race. Racial discrimination committed by patients can be confusing and hurtful for nurses who are only trying to help. Nurses are also discriminated against by the administration of the health facility or organization they work for. Nurses have reported they suspect to have been overlooked for promotion because of their race. Co-workers are also culprits in racism issues. It is common for senior health officers to bully a nurse with racially-motivated comments.


Gender Discrimination against Male Nurses


Male nurses are generally not as welcomed, and this has been fueled by the erroneous idea that nursing is a profession exclusively for females. Many patients and coworkers find it hard to accept a man as a nurse, and this is one of the reasons why men don't consider nursing as a career. The educational system is not helping this situation at all. Think about textbooks that refer to nurses as "she" or nursing school facilities that are unfriendly to male students.


Nurses with Disabilities


There are many cases of nurses who developed disabilities at work. Such individuals have had their own share of discrimination based on the fear that they may cause harm to patients. Nurses who develop allergies or who have suffered head-on collisions or hearing loss on duty should be allowed to continue their work without any fear of discrimination, as long as the disability is not a barrier to efficient service delivery. There are new technologically advanced gadgets and devices like hearing aids, which the hearing-impaired nurses can use to make them perform their duties with accurate precision.


Fighting Against Discrimination in Health Care


People who discriminate against others are doing it because of insecurities and superiority. If you feel you have been discriminated against, take action immediately before it is too late.


Let Them Know You Feel Offended – Let the assailant know you have been offended. It doesn't even matter if it is targeted at you and someone you know, speaking up is the first step to ensuring that it will not happen again.


Keep Your Performance High – People who discriminate against others blame their action on the worker's poor performance. To prevent anyone from finding serious excuse to discriminate against you, make sure you keep your work performance metrics high.


Network with Similar Staff – Networking with other people who have been victims of discrimination can help you get better and find support. Many hospitals now have mentoring program and diversity recruitment for minorities where issues are discussed, and mentorship is offered.


Role of Health Employers


As a health organization, you can help fight against discrimination by:


  • Studying employment law
  • Setting up networking, diversity recruitment, and mentorship groups
  • Taking a proactive stance against discrimination
  • Introducing hospital anti-discrimination policy
  • Prevent discrimination lawsuit by training staff administration


Discrimination against nurses is a problem that needs to be taken seriously and dealt with. Hospitals should create anti-discrimination policy and ensure every employee is aware of it, including the consequence they risk if they are found guilty.


By: Eileen O'Shanassy

Eileen O'Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.